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Former Attorney General Bill Barr knocked the “constant pandering” coming from the right regarding the outrage towards the FBI following the raid at Mar-a-Lago.
Appearing on Thursday’s installment of Bari Weiss’s “Honestly” podcast, Barr was defensive of the DOJ’s handling of its ongoing investigation into former President Trump but said the fallout from the Russia investigation “created the condition” of the public automatically thinking “the worst” in the institution.
“So what do you say to conservatives who say, ‘Why should we possibly trust these institutions to prosecute people—let’s say who protested on January 6th or agents of the state going after a president they so obviously despise? Why should we trust them anymore?'” Weiss asked, adding “You still give them the benefit of the doubt, but many other people in your party don’t.”
“Well, the Russiagate thing, I think, to the extent the FBI was misused was decisions made toward by high-level officials in the FBI. I don’t think that Chris Wray is that type of leader nor do I think the people around Chris Wray are those types of leaders,” Barr responded. “I think there are problems in the FBI, but it’s not that. It’s not the Chris Wray. Wray is going to wake up and say, you know, ‘How do I throw the FBI’s weight around to interfere in the political process. Just the opposite. I think he’s very cautious about that.”
Barr acknowledged the DOJ, by and large, is “spotty” when it comes to those who act on a partisan basis versus those who are able to “check [their politics] at the door.”
Weiss, however, called his comments an “unsatisfying answer” to Republicans who continue to distrust the FBI.
“Well, what’s the alternative?” Barr shot back. “You know, something I’m pretty tired of from- from the right is the constant pandering to outrage and people’s frustrations. And picking and picking and picking at that sore without trying to channel those feelings in a constructive direction. In my opinion, Ronald Reagan was a great populist not because he followed, you know, the frustrated instincts and the outrage of the people that many people who supported him but because he channeled it and was constructive about it.”
He continued, “So I always say, you know, what’s the alternative? We have these institutions that need reform. And the first step is to win an election with a decisive majority that allows you to put a program into effect and deal with some of these problems going forward and fix them. And that is not done by throwing fuel on the fire of outrage on one side of the equation while the other side does the same thing on their side. That leads to stalemate. And I don’t see anything productive coming out of it. I think we should basically try to persuade people- and I think they’re there.”
The former AG pointed to GOP Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin as an example of someone who could transform the Republican Party into a “majority party.”
He then took a swipe at his former boss.
“The problem with Trump is that it’s all about running just the base election, whip up your base, get your base all upset, get them outraged and turn them out at the polls,” Barr said. “Both sides do that. That is a prescription for a continued hostility within the country and demoralization of the country and an impasse in the country. And the first side the break out of that by returning- restoring politics to what it should be, which is the politics of trying to capture a majority of the people through persuasion and decisive enough majority to change things- that’s what we should be focused on. And we’re not doing that right now. That’s not Trump’s approach.”
There has been a political firestorm ever since the FBI launched a raid into Mar-a-lago allegedly obtaining classified materials that were kept at the former president’s estate. Trump and his defenders have argued that they had been declassified as he left office in January 2021.
The judge who approved the warrant for the search will release a redacted affidavit that may shed more light on the motive behind the unprecedented actions by the FBI, which were given the green light by Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The FBI has also been facing intense scrutiny over its handling of its investigation into Hunter Biden. Multiple whistleblowers have approached top Senate Republicans alleging the politicization that has gone into the probe and claims that agents were told not to investigate the current president’s son for months over fears it could impact the 2020 election.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg also revealed to Joe Rogan that the FBI approached Facebook to warn about “Russian propaganda” before the Hunter Biden laptop story emerged, which was suppressed by Big Tech.